Many South African CIO’s today are stuck. This is the view of Nick Truran, CEO of AgileIT, a lean consultancy which assists corporate IT shops to transition from legacy and vendor commitments to highly effective partners able to deliver on the business strategy.
“We call this mired state “CxO paralysis”,” Truran says, “and the causes are not easily unravelled especially given huge investments in technologies and vendor relationships that are not deriving intended value.
Pressure to deliver on these and address growing demands from the business for IT to lead in innovation and growth, makes the role of the CIO an exceptionally challenging one,” he added.
Of the 178 of South Africa’s top public and private sector CIOs surveyed in the 2017/18 ITWeb CIO Survey, 56 % believe their roles are changing faster and more drastically than any other industry. The key drivers for this change are digital migration, competition and globalisation. Furthermore, 80% of these CIOs cited their inability to move fast enough among their chief concerns, followed by lack of available skills, inadequate budget and compliance pressures.
Similar findings were listed in Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Report, with growth topping the list of business priorities reported by CIOs for 2018. South Africa is no different with 87% of local CIO’s giving more focus on driving business growth and less on cutting cost.
“Using IT to drive business growth is not as simple as it sounds,” Truran says, “Technology is evolving at such a rate that only the most adept of organisations have managed to keep up. This is aggravated by the fact that most IT executives have only three to five year contracts.
During these short contractual periods, they are employed to deliver on very specific needs that the organisation may have at that point in time. Chances are by the time the executive has managed to get to grips with the organisation and forged a plan to address the original requirement, its needs have changed and as such a new plan is required. It’s little wonder that IT executives are becoming overwhelmingly fatigued by the constant turbulence. Furthermore, massive cost pressure from the business results in their being paralysed by circumstance and crippled by environmental factors,” he added.
As a former IT executive of a large financial services business, Truran is well familiar with these challenges.
“This is why when I started my consultancy I determined that our approach, which we have termed the ADAPT execution framework, would offer an agile and flexible engagement framework and process that produces technology solutions, which align the client’s IT infrastructure with the strategy of the business. Our approach is both designed to reinforce the foundations of the client’s IT infrastructure, while providing its IT team with the tools and the time to help the business innovate – often in parallel.
AgileIT’s team of specialists will help clients to identify ‘cracks’ in the existing infrastructure, determine the future business ‘bricks’ that are required, and then draw on the correct ‘architecture’ knowledge to forge a corrective plan of action that will deliver the much-needed IT stability. Thereafter, attention can be given to the business strategy and the transformation technology needed to support it,” he said.
The result is a lean, cost conscious and highly effective IT landscape that has the agility to evolve as the business demands.
“Technology thus can be nimbly deployed to assist the business to address the rapid shifts that digital transformation brings, rather than becoming a reactionary resource that is playing continual catch up,” Truran concluded.